We call the Feijoa the New Zealand Easter Egg. Scrabbling on the ground under our 20 odd trees (a mix of Apollo, Triumph and Mammoth) every day isn’t quite as fun as an Easter egg hunt when there are several buckets of fruit to collect every second day, but it does give a real sense of plenty! Our trees weren’t always so.
When we came to Okiwi in 2007, the trees were stunted and completely shaded out by a huge bamboo hedge that had been planted on the north side of the trees, so they got no sunshine whatsoever. They were infested with bronze beetles (which damage the flowers and embryonic fruit), so never bore so much as one fruit. Very stressed and unhappy trees.
The first thing we (ahem Gerald) did was to cut down the bamboo hedge with the blade of the weed-eater and mulch it all with our Hansa chipper. No mean feat as the hedge was 3-4 metres wide and about 30 metres long! Soon we had huge piles of bamboo chip everywhere, which became our first layer of mulch in the gardens around the eggplants and capsicums.
Then over the next three years, we had to correctively prune the poor trees, which were leaning over on their side to get to the light, to get them upright again. The bamboo needed about three more sessions with the weed-eater over a period of one year to kill it off. It has never grown back since. (This is the clumping bamboo Bambusa oldhamii, not the running type.)
The bronze beetles continued to be a problem. We did some research on their lifecycle, which told us that the beetles emerge from the soil in September and go back down when the weather gets hot and dry. Feijoas are gross feeders meaning they need lots of nitrogen, so we decided to put our free ranging hens under the trees from around September to late December. Hens peck bugs with amazing accuracy, and we figured they would gobble up most of the bugs as they emerged. And so they did. As well the hens loved the shade under the trees (they are, after all, originally forest dwellers) and spent many happy hours making great dust baths.
We finally started to get fruit from the trees, and every year we have had bigger and bigger harvests. The trees have grown huge with all that chook manure, but now we have another problem: kakas!
We have had to net the trees the last four years after the kakas finally discovered the fruit. It took them a while, but once discovered they never forgot! Kaka can very quickly destroy the entire crop as they work through the trees, biting and knocking down the unripe fruit, damaged and unsaleable. We resorted to netting the trees with white bird netting, which was very effective but as the trees grew, the nets didn’t come all the way down under the trees and the crafty parrots would make their way under the net and continue to wreak havoc. Eventually we had to sow two lengths of 5m wide net in order to get the trees completely covered. It took five people this year to get the nets over the trees!
You can find our feijoas at Stonewall Store and we shall also have them at the market this Saturday.
Want to grow feijoas in your garden?
Usually you need two varieties for cross-pollination. You can order trees from us now! Check our fruit tree catalogue.
Love feijoas and crumbles? Try our feijoa crumble secret recipe ;)